Texas Tech - Nevada Preview

Texas Tech returns to Jones AT&T Stadium for its final non-conference test against Nevada.

The University of Nevada football program has clawed its way to respectability over the last several years and many observers expect the Wolfpack to give Texas Tech a tussle in Lubbock this weekend.

Chris Ault's team, with current San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick calling the signals, went 13-1 last season and gave the great 2008 Red Raiders a good battle before finally dropping the decision in Reno. But Kaepernick cannot kickstart the Pack anymore. Do Red Raider fans have reason for concern?

Nevada Rushing Attack: The Wolfpack have rushed the ball effectively so far. They are currently No.7 nationally in rushing yardage, and 215-pound junior Mike Ball is averaging over 110 rushing yards per contest and 5.2 yards per rush through two games.

But all is not quite as it appears. Nevada's two opponents, Oregon and San Jose State, are No.107 and No.110 against the rush respectively. The potency of the Wolfpack ground game is one reason for those low rankings, but no matter how you slice it Nevada has not encountered a strong rush defense yet. Moreover, a great many of Nevada's rushing yards against Oregon came in the second half after the Ducks had already built a commanding 41-7 lead.

Bear also in mind that the Red Raiders faced an option attack somewhat similar to Nevada's in week one against Texas State, and saw zone read and quarterback keepers against New Mexico. Tech's defense should be dialed into what the Wolfpack wants to do.

Nevada Passing Attack: With the running game so firmly in the ascendant, it's not surprising that the Wolfpack doesn't have much of a passing attack. Nevada is currently No.95 nationally in passing yardage, averaging 173 passing yards per contest. And as underwhelming as those numbers are, the truth is more dismal still as Nevada's passing efficiency rating is No.111. Obviously, you do well what you do most and the Wolfpack passes neither often nor effectively.

Attempting to fill Kaepernick's formidable cleats is six-foot-four senior Tyler Lantrip. He is completing just 57% of his passes and has thrown four picks to only one touchdown. Lantrip's favorite target is Rishard Matthews who has 15 receptions for 177 yards. Starting tight end Zach Sudfeld is gone for the season with an injury, but his absence will be felt more in the rushing game than in the aerial show.

For what it's worth, Nevada has allowed only one sack so far.

Nevada Rushing Defense: It's still early in the season, and facing the Oregon Ducks will skew things, but so far the Wolfpack have not been stout against the run, allowing 205 rushing yards per contest and 5.62 yards per tote. Nevada is No.104 nationally in rushing defense and No.115 in yards per carry allowed.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall leads the Wolfpack defense in tackles with 18, while fellow ‘backer J. M. Johnson has 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.

Nevada Passing Defense: With teams running so effortlessly against Nevada, you'd think the Pack's pass defense numbers would look pretty good. If you thought so, you'd be wrong.

Nevada is No.83 nationally against the pass allowing 242 passing yards per game. And pass defense efficiency is even worse, checking in at No.102 in the nation. Thus far the Wolfpack has only one interception, while surrendering six touchdown passes. The lone pick came compliments of safety Duke Williams.

Looking into the Crystal Football: The Red Raiders are not without question marks and weaknesses, but Tech has far fewer of them than Nevada. The Wolfpack were never in the game against an excellent Oregon team on the road, and struggled to get past a San Jose State outfit that has had two winning seasons since 2000.

Offensively, Tech should have its way with a Nevada defense that has done little right so far. The Pack is porous against the run, abysmal against the pass, does not create turnovers and has recorded exactly two sacks in two games.

The Red Raider defense will face a greater challenge as Nevada's offense is clearly superior to anything Tech has seen thus far. Still, it is worth recalling that the Wolfpack scored only 17 points against San Jose State and gained only 373 total yards. The Red Raider defense is hardly a world-beater at this juncture, but they're better than San Jose State.

Texas Tech 46  Nevada 16

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